Sibling relationship with Alaska highlighted

The Alaska Outreach, a program hosted by the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber, showcased the economic ties between Tacoma and Alaska at an event today at the headquarters of McFarland Cascade.

While McFarland Cascade sells its utility poles throughout the world, the company’s consumer-bought lumber products are sold domestically, with an increasing portion of its stock of treated lumber heading towards Alaska. The Tacoma timber company represents just one of the hundreds of companies in the South Sound that trades with the nation’s northernmost state. Tacoma sits at the center of that trade relationship.

“We started out in Alaska by selling through a Home Depot in Anchorage,” said Chris Meyers of McFarland. “And they’re building a new facility in Juneau, which had it’s grand opening yesterday.”
As a vendor-managed inventory supplier of treated lumber products, McFarland produces in-house but sells through various retailers. So until the lumber is actually sold, it sits in the company’s lumberyards. And in the case of the Anchorage Home Depot, it doesn’t sit for long.

“Home Depot has been really great to us,” said Meyers. “In 2006, we sold 18,000 tons of lumber in Alaska; we’re looking to hit 22,000 to 23,000 this year with the opening of the store in Juneau.”
Puget Sound companies export more than $3.8 billion worth of goods and services to Alaska annually, and McFarland hopes to increase its $200 million in annual sales by being a part of it. Some 103,000 jobs in the area are linked somehow to the Alaskan economy.

Carriers that deal in Alaskan trade through the Port of Tacoma transported roughly 476,000 containers in 2005, up 13 percent in just two years. The Alaska-bound traffic in Tacoma waters makes up 23 percent of the port’s total trade volume. Alaska receives 70 percent of its waterborne commerce through Tacoma.